August 2011 Bulletin

August in the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden

The monthy bulletin of the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all-volunteer managed garden.

IN THIS ISSUE: Capulin cherry trees, Gaillardia, Milkweed, Drought-tolerant ground covers and more.


Capulin Cherry Tree

The capulin cherry tree is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It has been cultivated since early times and is naturalized in Central and South America. Today it is cultivated in the Andes and at harvest the fruits are abundantly available in Andean markets. The tree was introduced into California sometime after the mid-1920s.

The semi deciduous tree is very fast growing and reaches a height of 10 feet in 12 to 18 months, eventually attaining a height of 30 feet or more. Capulin cherries are quite attractive when in bloom with dangling racemes covered with masses of flowers.

Fruit: Depending on climate, they ripen from mid-May to midsummer. The fruits are 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter and deep glossy maroon to dark purple in color. The juicy flesh is sweet and agreeable with a touch of astringency.






This hardy plant is not picky about soil and self seeds freely! It has a high drought tolerance and does best with a dry, hot climate in full sun, perfect for our Conejo Valley area. A native of central United States, it’s vibrant colored flowers can be seen carpeting fields and the sides of highways for miles in the summer to late fall. In the garden, the flowers can be removed to promote further blooming. These showy summer flowers can be seen in the Kids’Adventure Garden.

-Sandy Krutilek




A Sampling of Green Ground Covers

FYI, the Sunset Garden Book has an extensive section on ground covers and is a reliable resource. This sampling highlights some that seem to fit our climate needs. Selections must be made with consideration for location, exposure, color palette, height and space. If a ground hugging type that can tolerate some foot traffic, Dymondia margaretae qualifies. It does well in a sunny location, requires moderate water when established and works well along pathways, between stepping stones and as a lawn substitute in small areas. Many herbs and sedums can be used this way though not where they would be stepped upon.

Trailing and spreading type plants can be very versatile. A popular choice for a semi-shaded, sizable area or slope could be Fragaria chiloensis. Other selections are of various heights and some have flower heads that add inches. These can be used under trees for color accents. Lamium, Salvia spathacea, Saxifraga, Cranesbill, Ajuga, and Campanula do well under a canopy of shade. An outstanding, spreading ground cover that can take hot and dry conditions is the evergreen Myoporum parvifolium, native to Australia, that fills in fast and does not root as it trails along the ground; a plus when you wish to remove it if it should overlap a given space. It features a small white flower in summer.

Most of these perennial plants can be found in the CVBG, a sure test of reliability and check the front of the Sunset Garden Book for detailed descriptions and cultivation tips for an expanded list of versatile of ground covers.

Happy Gardening,
Barbara Song


What’s In a Name?

Monarch feeding on milkweed

by Diane Conejo

Butterfly Milkweed
(asclepias tuberosa)

Looking for a plant for your Native Garden that is easy to grow and is an environmental helper to butterflies? Asclepias tuberosa is your plant! No, it is not a California Native, but is actually native to the eastern part of North America. Asclepias has no trouble thriving in our area from early Summer through the Fall. It favors dry, sandy or gravel-ridden soils, full sun and requires little water, which makes it perfect for the drought-tolerant gardens that are so popular these days.

Milkweeds are named for the milky sap that flows through their stems; the sap contains alkaloids, latex and other compounds that are toxic. (So please do not plant where pets or young children play!) The Monarch caterpillar feeds on those toxins to render itself and the adult butterfly inedible by predators. Carl Linnaeus named the genus after Asklepios, the Greek god of healing because there are many folk-medicine uses for the milkweed plant. There are many Asclepias species to be planted and enjoyed, but the Butterfly Milkweed is available through the Botanic Garden Sunday Plant Sale and always at a good price.




Birthday Parties:Miss Betty and the girls have fun with garden crafts.

The birthday parties held at the KAG on Saturdays have become very popular. So popular that Betty needs more volunteers to give her some help. It is a lot of fun and not too much work. Sometimes the kids come in costumes, depending on what the 'theme' of the party may be. The adults set up and take down the tables and chairs. There is a donation to use the garden. You help by keep your eyes on the kids as they get excited about having a party at the KAG. Sometimes you even get a piece of birthday cake. If you are willing to help by giving a few hours of your time, give Betty a call at 1-818-889-0560.



Want to Help us Grow?

Do you love Conejo Valley Botanic Garden and would like to help, but just don't have the time to volunteer?
Even though much of the work you see going on in the garden is done by volunteers, we still have expenses for planting, heavy pruning and new improvements. These projects are funded through grants and donations from the community. If you would like to help us grow, tax deductible donations are always welcome and may be made out and sent to Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, PO Box 6614, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359. Thanks for all your support!



Kid’s Adventure Garden Bog

photos by Pat Carlson



The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden Needs You!

The Garden is managed and maintained by community volunteers. Without your help, the garden cannot thrive. None of the volunteer positions at CVBG has a minimum number of volunteer hours attached. If you can help for a few hours a month, great! For more information on any of our volunteer opportunities, please go to our web site at and click “Volunteers.”


Assistant to the Volunteer Coordinator:
Help recruit new volunteers and match them with garden jobs they might enjoy.

Adopt A Garden:
We have an ongoing need for volunteers to join the teams working in our theme gardens. Days and hours are flexible so give us a call.

Garden Nursery:
There is no better way to lean about California native and water wise plants than to join the teams working in the propagation and sales nurseries.

The Kids Adventure Garden:
KAG is open from 11:00 to 3:00 each Sunday. Docents welcome families to the garden, answer questions and ensure everyone is safe and has fun. You will train with an experienced Docent. You can sign up for one shift a month or as many as you want. Contact Jean Reiley at 805 374 8255.

For information and directions to the garden, visit our web site at